New California Foundation Supports Home Give-Away

It is a scene repeated daily across the country. A family closes on their first new home and opens the door to a better life.
By Patrick L. O’Toole, Senior Editor | February 23, 2000
It is a scene repeated daily across the country. A family closes on their first new home and opens the door to a better life.

Sometime this spring, the scene will be repeated for a financial disadvantaged family successfully making the transition off federal assistance. What will make the scene different is that the family will own the home free-and-clear courtesy of a new foundation formed by California Manufactured Housing Institute.

CMHI, a group of manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and financial companies, recently formed a charitable arm—The CMHI Foundation—and chose the home give-away as its first project. The program, "An American Dream Come True" will award a 3-bedroom 1100 square-foot home with attached garage, finishes, and landscaping to one of the many families nominated prior to a mid-March application deadline. A panel of five luminaries including a former United States Senator and the deputy chief of police in Los Angeles will select the winner during the first week of April.

Nominees must be California residents and be enrolled in the Federal Self-Sufficiency Program and be near graduation from that program. State housing officials are providing support to the program by accepting and screening the nominations through its offices around the Golden state.

According to CMHI president Bob West, the give-away will serve two purposes. It will give an enormous boost to a deserving disadvantaged family and at the same time "focus attention on the suitability of manufactured housing to meet increasing statewide demands for more affordable home ownership opportunities, particularly in urban communities."

The idea for the program stems from the help the industry was called upon to provide in two cases. In December 1998, a Bay-area charitable rehabilitation project was found to be an unsound structure so the CMHI assisted in gathering donations to build a new home. The group provided the same assistance to a brood of orphaned siblings living in Santa Clarita who could become the custody of their 20-something older sister on the condition that she could provide a home.

CMHI’s West is unsure if the "American Dream" program will turn into an annual event but he is happy with the positive response so far from housing authority executives from around the state who have taken the time to make dozens of nominations.

In a more general sense, the lack of affordable housing is reaching a crisis stage in many parts of California and HUD-Code housing suppliers are welcoming the opportunity to provide solutions. West thinks the industry, which already works closely with state officials, would be best suited to participate in any future state programs designed to provide single-family infill type solutions.

And though the lack of affordable housing is expected to get substantially worse, the problem has already spilled over into infrastructure and traffic concerns, says West. "In some cases, the Silicon Valley being the most extreme example, housing prices have forced people earning less than the median income to drive more than 100 miles to get to work."

For more information about CMHI’s "An American Dream Come True" program contact the CMHI at (909) 987-2599 or on the Internet at